Such a buyer could become a nightmare for Orange County fans of the Weekly. Times Mirror executives—the same ones routinely criticized in this column for trashing the Los Angeles Times—have been rumored as possible suitors. Such an acquisition wouldn't be so absurd. In April, Times Mirror stepped into the world of alternative journalism when it purchased New Mass Media in the Northeast. However, LA and OC Weekly publisher Mike Sigman, a participant in the sale negotiations, has told staff that company owner Leonard Stern prefers to sell to a buyer who understands and appreciates the role of alternative weeklies. That obviously precludes Times Mirror executives, who have in the past hysterically accused this publication of single-handedly jeopardizing the First Amendment by criticizing their paper.
According to Stern officials, final bids are due in November. A deal is expected to be announced in January. The company, which went on the auction block on Sept. 22, is supposedly worth between $50 million and $200 million.